Enel launches the challenge to build the electricity grids of the future

Enel Grids proposes a new challenge on Open Innovability® inviting designers, architects and engineers to design primary substations that are innovative and modular.

Enel Grids is looking for a new design and architectural concept for its primary substations that can embody the principles of circular economy and sustainability. Proposals submitted by designers, architects and engineers for the challenge launched by Enel will have to be innovative in terms of design, materials and construction, while at the same time meeting sustainability requirements within a circular design approach. The substations will have to be fully integrated into the environmental and social context in which they will be installed.
Sustainability represents a fundamental value for Enel, a key factor in orienting electricity distribution network development projects so as to combine reliability and security of service with care for the environment, territory and local communities.
The ultimate goal is to support the decarbonisation path and, in so doing, make the energy transition possible and concrete. This is one of the missions that Enel pursues through ‘Grid Futurability®‘, an industrial approach to transforming distribution networks devoted to resilience, participation and all-round sustainability.
Enel Grids is actively using the tools of Open Innovation on the Grid Futurability pathway to bring new ideas on board and to open up to contributions from all players in the energy sector. Over the past two years, more than 10 challenges concerning the Grid, such as the new design of the Smart Meter or street boxes, have been launched on open innovability. More than 250 solutions have been submitted.
Architects, engineers, designers, innovators, start-ups and companies are called upon to participate in the challenge and to propose designs for Primary Electricity Transformation Cabins (designed to transform high-voltage electricity into medium-voltage energy that guarantee a high degree of versatility, a fundamental requirement for buildings and architectural elements to adapt to the various possible contexts of use in the area. These plants are the focus of Enel’s development project because they are fundamental nodes in the electricity system and bear witness to how network assets are changing in the context of the energy transition. Primary substations, which traditionally were hubs dedicated to converting high-voltage electricity and feeding it into the distribution grid, are increasingly also functioning as corridors for transmitting the electricity produced by citizens, industries and businesses locally.
Primary transformer substations can be installed in different contexts according to need, from city centres to suburbs to rural environments. This variety of context and location makes it necessary to reconcile versatility, reliability, sustainability and technical precision.
The challenge is published on the Open Innovability® crowdsourcing platform, where all details and specifications can be found. The projects will be assessed by a commission composed of Enel representatives and a number of high-level personalities from universities, institutions and the design and architecture sectors. Up to 40,000 euros are up for grabs.